Sunday, January 21, 2007

When numbers get serious: The cost of a failed war

The Pentagon has announced that the Iraq war is going to be costing a little more in the future (although, as with cable TV, while the price may keep going up, you can always count on getting more features you didn't necessarily want).

They're now estimating that the price tag will hit $8.4 billion this year. And--once again, like cable TV--that eye-popping figure is the per-month cost.

Actually, though, is $8.4 billion per month really an "eye-popping" figure? Do you understand how much money that really is? Do I?

Let's do some back-of-the-envelope figuring: $8.4 billion per month, say 30 days per month, 24 hours per day, 60 minutes per hour, 60 seconds per minute . . . hmm . . . carry the 4 . . . April, June, and November . . .

That works out to around $324 for every tenth of a second the failed Iraq war continues. Or, to put it more concretely--and remembering, again, that this is for every tenth of a second--that's roughly:
  • 20 deep-dish 10" pizzas, with pepperoni, Italian sausage, garlic, mushrooms, feta, and extra roma tomatoes, from Captain Ankeny's Well in Portland OR, or

  • 1 brand-name 27" color TV from Target, or

  • 1 credit hour of tuition (in-state) at my undergraduate alma mater, or

  • 120 gallons of gasoline at $2.699, the price I paid at the pump yesterday evening, or

  • 1 month of groceries (no splurging) for two adults and two children, or

  • 2-3 visits to a primary care physician.

All that, pissed away in a tenth of a second, every tenth of a second. Or, if you like, consider it this way:

Blink. That's three hundred bucks (probably at least twice that, really, unless you're an extraordinarily fast blinker).

Still not concrete enough for you? Okay, how about this: That's $324 for every time the number in the right-hand column here clicks over by one.

1 comment:

Chuck Butcher said...

That's also, for a risky business at 150% of wage, the cost of a worker making $28/hr for the day. You'd get ten of them a second.